Stephen Colbert Expresses Remorse for Kate Middleton Jokes (but Doesn’t Apologize)

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Stephen Colbert made a two-minute statement near the start of Monday’s The Late Show about his recent jokes about Kate Middleton.

The late night host had previously mocked Princess of Wales’ absence from public life, as well as made jokes about rumors Prince William had an affair. Last week, Middleton revealed she was battling cancer. Given that it was public knowledge that Middleton had gone quiet following abdominal surgery in January, some had criticized Colbert for his jokes, arguing it was hardly difficult to put together that she was having some kind of health crisis.

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Colbert expressed remorse about the jokes and wished Middleton well, though he stopped shy of outright apologizing.

“We do a lot of shows, and I tell a lot of jokes, and I tell jokes about a lot of different things — mostly what everybody’s talking about,” Colbert said last night. “And for the last six weeks to two months, everybody has been talking about the mystery of Kate Middleton’s disappearance from public life.”

Continued Colbert: “And two weeks ago, we did some jokes about that mystery and all the attendant fru-fra in the reporting about that. And when I made those jokes, that upset some people, and even before her diagnosis was revealed, and I can understand that. A lot of my jokes have upset people in the past, and I’m sure some of my jokes will upset people in the future. But there’s a standard that I try to hold myself to, and that is I do not make light of somebody else’s tragedy.

“Now, I don’t know whether her prognosis is a tragic one, she’s the future queen of England and I assume she’s going to get the best possible medical care,” he said. “But regardless of what it is, I know, and I’m sure many of you, far too many of us know, that any cancer diagnosis of any kind is harrowing for the patient and for their family. And though I’m sure they don’t need it from me, I and everyone here at The Late Show would like to extend our well wishes and heartfelt hope that her recovery is swift and thorough.”

During an episode earlier this month, Colbert had said, “The kingdom was in a state of panic about the apparent disappearance of Kate Middleton. Well, internet sleuths now believe Kate’s absence may be linked to her husband and future King of England, William, having an affair. According to the tabloids at the time, when Kate confronted him about it, he laughed and said there was nothing to it. Always a good response when your wife accuses you of cheating.”

Prince William has issued a statement in 2019 calling the allegations “false and extremely damaging.”

Colbert had also showed a doctored photo mocking Middleton’s Photoshop fail family portrait that the palace had released.

An Atlantic essay titled “I Hope You All Feel Terrible Now” was among those that took aim at Colbert after the diagnosis, saying, “Kate has effectively been bullied into this statement, because the alternative — a wildfire of gossip and conspiracy theories — was worse … Stephen Colbert’s ‘spilling the tea’ monologue, which declared open season on the princess’s marriage, should probably be quietly interred somewhere.”

Previously, Blake Lively posted an apology for making fun of the Photoshop mishap. “I’m sure no one cares today but I feel like I have to acknowledge this,” Lively wrote in an Instagram Story. “I made a silly post around the ‘photoshop fails’ frenzy, and oh man, that post has me mortified today. I’m sorry. Sending love and well wishes to all, always.”

During Middleton’s video statement last week, the princess said, “In January, I underwent major abdominal surgery in London and at the time it was thought that my condition was non-cancerous. The surgery was successful; however, tests after the operation found cancer had been present. This of course came as a huge shock, and William and I have been doing everything we can to process and manage this privately for the sake of our young family. As you can imagine, this has taken time. It has taken us time for me to recover from major surgery in order to start my treatment. But most importantly, it has taken us time to explain everything to George, Charlotte and Louis in a way that’s appropriate for them and to reassure them I’m going to be OK.”

Middleton added she had begun a course of preventative chemotherapy treatment and is now in the early stages of that treatment.

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